Special counsel investing Trump for possible obstruction of justice

The nation's top intelligence official told associates in March that President Trump asked him if he could intervene with then-FBI Director James B. Comey to get the bureau to back off its focus on former national security adviser Michael Flynn in its Russian Federation probe, according to officials.

Meanwhile, a chorus of Trump supporters, from former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich to commentator Ann Coulter, is assailing Mueller's independence.

Under Justice Department regulations created to ensure a measure of independence for the special counsel, Rosenstein may only fire Mueller for "good cause".

Trump friend Ruddy, the CEO of Newsmax, went so far as to suggest the president was already thinking about "terminating" Mueller from his position as special counsel.

But in a statement issued shortly after the Post report, a spokesman for Kasowitz, Mark Corallo, said: "The FBI leak of information regarding the President is outrageous, inexcusable and illegal".

The special counsel, who has moved quickly to take full control of the investigation, is reportedly interviewing what the Post described as "senior intelligence officials" as part of what suddenly also is an obstruction of justice investigation. Investigators are also considering the conversations Comey and the president had leading up to that point.

When Comey had America's attention before the Senate, he willingly outed himself as the leaker of a now-famous memo, in which Trump told Comey "I hope you can let this [probe into fired NSA Michael Flynn] go;" accused the president of defaming him and the FBI; and said he believed he was sacked because of the Bureau's investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and sneaky Russian operatives.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has broadened the FBI's investigation to include an investigation of President Donald Trump for potential obstruction of justice.

Comey testified that initial explanations that he was sacked because of poor leadership were "lies, plain and simple".

"It's my judgment that I was sacked because of the Russian Federation investigation", Comey said.

One focus of Mueller's interest is a conversation Trump had with newly installed DNI Dan Coats in March. Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats is reportedly cooperating with the investigation, as he has information that could be key to understanding if Trump did attempt to impede the investigation into Russian Federation and the election. Trump told Holt was OK with sacking Comey while the bureau was probing his campaign because Democrats made up "Russia thing". But Comey did lay out facts that a prosecutor could use to try to prove obstruction, as NPR's Domenico Montanaro noted. Trump disputed, though, Comey's assertion he had asked for a pledge of loyalty. "My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted", Rosenstein said at the time.

Chatter surfaced earlier this week that the president was considering firing Mueller. The first time Trump said he accepted the findings of the intelligence agencies was at a January 11 news conference ahead of his inauguration.

But Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller last month, testified Tuesday he has seen no evidence of good cause to fire Mueller.

  • Leroy Wright